The United Nations says Victoria should compensate a woman almost 20 years after four police officers beat her unconscious, breaking her nose and jaw.
Corinna Horvath was 21 when when eight police officers kicked in the door to her Somerville home in 1996. One dragged her to the floor, while the other sat on her and continued to beat her after she became unconscious.
The police officers did not have a warrant to enter her property for an alleged traffic infringement.
Eighteen years on, she does not trust men, and is always prepared to defend herself in public: "If you've got to beware of the police force, you've got to beware of everybody. We should be trusting (the police), not scared of them."
The County Court ordered Victoria Police and the state government pay her $315,000 compensation in 2001. But the then-state government successfully appealed the decision. The Court of Appeal found that the state government was not responsible for officers who acted outside reasonable procedures and the High Court refused to hear an appeal from the decision.
In 2008, Ms Horvath's lawyers, issued an ''individual communication'' to the United Nations Human Rights Committee on the matter, arguing the state government had violated her rights in a number of articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Committee said in its decision, delivered on Friday, that Australian courts had already acknowledged this. The real issue was whether she had received an "effective remedy".
It said that she had exhausted all "domestic remedies" in her attempts to seek compensation from the individual police officers.
The Committee said Australia was obliged "to investigate allegations of violations promptly, thoroughly and effectively through independent and impartial bodies.
"The state party is under an obligation to provide (Ms Horvath) with an effective remedy including adequate compensation (and) to take steps to prevent similar violations in the future."
The findings also include:
THE state government should be held vicariously liable for all police misconduct, and should amend its laws to that effect;
VICTORIA Police should re-open its investigation of the officers involved in the attack; and
AN independent body should investigate such police misconduct in future in public hearings.
One of Ms Horvath's lawyers, Tamar Hopkins, said none of the four police officers who assaulted her client had been disciplined by Victoria Police. One was the subject of an internal disciplinary investigation which was later dropped for lack of evidence.
All four were believed to have been moved and promoted after the incident, and two of the officers are still serving in the police force, she said.
Victoria Police would not comment on the officers involved in the attack, saying: "In regard to any disciplinary matters arising out of this case, Victoria Police will not comment on individual matters."
Ms Hopkins said the Australian government – both state and federal – were bound to comply with the United Nations' decision as a signatory to the Convention.
Police accountability for violence was "chronically deficient in Victoria".
"It's rare for police to lose their jobs over violence. Until we have an effective accountability system we're going to keep banging our heads against the wall waiting for change."
Ms Horvath hopes the decision will lead to the worst of her perpetrators being charged with assault and changes within Victoria Police.
"If they want to clean their force up they need to get tossers like that out of the force," she said.
The Coalition has about six months – 180 days – to tell the UN Committee the "measures taken to give effect to the Committee's views".
A Coalition spokeswoman said the government was considering the decision.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said Victoria Police acknowledged the United Nations' decision.
She said the UNHRC had detailed its views to the Australian government but: "It is inappropriate for Victoria Police to comment in relation to this."